Answers to the "Gammon-Saving Quiz"
Dr. Jeff Ward, 1981
Las Vegas Backgammon Magazine, December 1981
light bulb These are the answers to the Gammon-Saving Quiz which is presented here.

Problem 1
Black to play 4-2.
24/18. The percentages dictate running to save the backgammon. (But with three White checkers on the two point, Black should stay.) With some luck, Black might even save the gammon.

Problem 2
Black to play 2-2.
10/6, 15/11. Black stays back to force White to use his next roll to play safe. If White rolls a low number, he bears off only one man — and still needs four more rolls to finish.

Problem 3
Black to play 5-3.
14/6. Playing to the six point is the most efficient bear-in because no pips are wasted within the home board. Avoiding waste and making crossovers (quadrant crossings) are higher priorities than bringing men in. The gap on the five point is unimportant.

Problem 4
Black to play 5-2.
8/6, 15/11. Black diversifies in his outer board to create an efficient 5.

Problem 5
Black to play 3-1.
20/17, 2/1. Using an ace to slot the one point is usually correct.

Problem 6
Black to play 6-1.
Bar/18. Crossing a quadrant is more valuable than slotting.

Problem 7
Black to play 4-3.
10/6, 14/11. The best spacing for two men in the outfield is usually two points apart, unless an additional crossover can be made with a different spacing.

Problem 8
Black to play 4-2.
13/9, 14/12. Don't settle for 4-4, 5-5, and 6-6 when you can get 3-3 as well.

Problem 9
Black to play 5-1.
15/10, 3/2. All doubles work except 1-1. Some plays leave Black with only three good doubles.

Problem 10
Black to play 4-4.
13/5, 7/3(2). Black must make four crossovers now just to give himself one saving roll, 6-6, next turn.

Problem 11
Black to play 3-2.
13/10, 7/5. Slotting the four or five point to save the gammon is rarely correct. It is more important to make crossovers and to move the rear man as close as possible.

Problem 12
Black to play 1-1.
13/10, 3/2. It is usually best to move a lone straggler as close to home as possible, but here more saving rolls result from using the last ace to slot the two point. A useful indicator of this kind of exception is the fact that it is bad to have a spacing of seven points between a home-board gap and the outside man. I call this the "Rule of Sevens." If Black moves 13/9, the Rule would apply with respect to the two point. A spacing of 7 is bad because a specific number, 2 in this case, neither bears in nor bears off. Black thus creates good 2's by slotting.

Problem 13
Black to play 3-1.
11/7. The wrong time to slot. Slotting the two point creates a spacing of 7, making future aces worthless.

Problem 14
Black to play 5-4.
12/8, 6/1. Black is helpless against a future 5-4 or 5-5, but can turn 4-4 into a good roll by landing on the eight point and staying there.

Problem 15
Black to play 2-1.
12/9. Best not to slot. The Rule of Sevens is a useful guide.

Problem 16
Black to play 3-3.
13/7, 6/3, 4/1. It's unusual for slotting with a 3 to be correct, but this position calls for an even rarer double slot. Only 5-5 won't save the gammon next turn. All other plays leave additional bad rolls.

Problem 17
Black to play 6-2.
12/6, 4/2. Ignore the open five point and bring the back man in. Slotting the two point to avoid a spacing of 7 is slightly better than slotting the 1 or 11/9.

Problem 18
Black to play 4-2.
9/5, 6/4. The right time to slot a high point. With nothing else to worry about, Black slots to destroy his last bad roll, 4-4. Other plays don't eliminate 4-4, 4-2, or 2-1.

Problem 19
Black to play 1-1.
11/8, 2/1. Playing to the eight point gets the low rolls, but Black must "burn" the last ace to maintain a delecate status quo containing no bad rolls. Other choices turn 5-3, 3-3, or 5-4 into gammon makers.

Problem 20
Black to play 2-1.
12/10, 5/4. This has to be one of the most bizarre correct moves in all of backgammon. Advancing to the ten point is mandatory, but continuing 10/9 is unusually ineffective (Rule of Sevens), adding not a single good roll. Shifting the gap from the four to the five point, however, adds 4-4 and 2-2 while retaining 5-5.

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